The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Wizards have to move on quickly to Cavaliers after forgettable outing against Hawks

LeBron James was limited to 22 points on 8 of 21 shooting against the Wizards on Friday. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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Back-to-backs in the NBA are usually met with disgruntlement. The toll of an 82-game schedule is substantial, players say, and games on consecutive nights, often in different cities, only intensifies the strain.

But the Washington Wizards are welcoming the second half of their back-to-back Wednesday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers after a forgettable 106-102 loss to the Atlanta Hawks at Verizon Center on Tuesday.

“Just have to let it go, man, that’s all we can do,” Wizards guard Bradley Beal said. “You can’t dwell on it because you got another tough team that’s going to come at you in less than 24 hours so we got to be mentally prepared and really have amnesia and move on.”

Turnovers plagued the Wizards from the outset Tuesday and they finished with a season-high 25. Cleveland boasts an explosive offense with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love heading the charge. But their porous defense could be the Wizards’ remedy. The Cavaliers rank 20th in the NBA in points allowed per 100 possessions (105.1) and 25th in opponent’s field goal percentage (46.8).

The Wizards controlled the teams’ meeting from the tip on Friday, shooting 48.8 percent from the field despite a drought in the fourth quarter and building as a big as a 15-point lead in their 91-78 triumph. After a 11-point first quarter, James was limited to 11 points the rest of the way and shot 8 of 21 from the floor, while Kevin Love recorded just eight points.

Since then, Washington has beaten the Milwaukee Bucks on the road and fallen to the Hawks in the District. The Cavaliers were blasted by the Toronto Raptors, 110-93, to begin a five-game homestand before routing the Orlando Magic, 106-74, on Monday.

“We know they are going to play the same way,” said Wizards point guard John Wall, who scored 28 points on Friday. “They just hope to play better. They definitely are going to try and beat us because we beat them here. They probably want to make it a big rivalry, but we know it is an important game. We are going in trying not to lose two in a row. That is our mindset throughout the year. If you lose one, try not to lose two in a row, and you know teams play different when they are at home.”

HUMPHRIES STARTS FOR NENE

Kris Humphries made his first start as a member of the Wizards Tuesday, replacing Nene at power forward. Nene was sidelined with right plantar fasciitis. Humphries compiled seven ppoints and 10 rebounds in 22 minutes.

Nene is expected to also miss Wednesday’s meeting with the Cavaliers.

PIERCE PASSES WEST

Paul Pierce’s eight-foot jump shot with 10:31 remaining in the third quarter of the Wizards’ loss Tuesday catapulted him passed Jerry West for 17th on the all-time scoring list. Pierce finished with 14 points to increase his career total to 25,202 — 77 points behind Reggie Miller, who sits in 16th place.

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